Category Archives: News

Katrina 10

New Orleans in the Atlantic world, that would be the course for me to give. There is this, but there is also much to say about things Spanish. I suppose I could allow research papers on topics such as “Sidney Bechet in Paris,” and here is Bechet’s complete discography.

There is so much reporting on this tenth anniversary. I do not have time to read everything but I am heartened to see that not all of the reporting is as celebratory of the so-called recovery as was Obama’s speech.

Here is one example, from Aljazeera, and here is another, from Diane Ravitch.



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For the first day of classes

All last year I had been amazed that this particular student appeared to have become a born-again Christian. Now he has a new name and it is clear that in fact he has converted to Islam.


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Hannah Arendt

Hobbes was the true, though never fully recognized, philosopher of the bourgeoisie because he realized that acquisition of wealth conceived as a never-ending process can be guaranteed only by the seizure of political power, for the accumulating process must sooner or later force open all existing territorial limits. He foresaw that a society which had entered the path of never-ending acquisition had to engineer a dynamic political organization capable of a corresponding never-ending process of power generation. He even, through sheer force of imagination, was able to outline the main psychological traits of the new type of man who would fit into such a society and its tyrannical body politic. He foresaw the necessary idolatry of power itself by this new human type, that he would be flattered at being called a power-thirsty animal, although actually society would force him to surrender all his natural forces, his virtues and his vices, and would make him the poor meek little fellow who has not even the right to rise against tyranny, and who, far from striving for power, submits to any existing government and does not stir even when his best friend falls an innocent victim to an incomprehensible raison d’état. For a Commonwealth based on the accumulated and monopolized power of all its individual members necessarily leaves each person powerless, deprived of his natural and human capacities. It leaves him degraded into a cog in the power-accumulating machine, free to console himself with sublime thoughts about the ultimate destiny of this machine, which itself is constructed in such a way that it can devour the globe simply by following its own inherent law.

Here are some additional notes.


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Rosemond Tuve

There is an article we should all read and discuss, as it is about the present. It is part of a symposium on the teaching of literature, where other luminaries presented as well.

Tuve, Rosemond. “More Battle than Books.” Sewanee Review 55:4 (Oct.-Dec. 1947): 571-585.

Stable URL:

This post is for all, but is especially for Dame Eleanor Hull.



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Sobre los sentimientos

In Reeducation, it was considered “inappropriate” or evidence of “denial” not to feel fearful or not to be so. You were to “learn to actually feel your feelings” which meant to give any fears you did have free rein. I had a book contract that according to Reeducation it was inappropriate that a person like me should have been able to get, and a Fulbright grant Reeducation thought I should be afraid to take since it meant crossing the sea. I gave them up because to me, the worst thing is to be accused of having no feelings or not having the right feelings, and I will do anything, mutilate myself in just about any way that is required, to counter or evade such accusations.

I had not been afraid of traveling, but I had been of the book. Now one of the press’ readers for this book has written one on the same topic, that makes arguments similar to mine. He says it is an imperfect book because it is beyond him to do as good a job on the topic as should be done, but that he did it anyway. If Reeducation had not been destructive, it would have reminded me that this was the right attitude, and not kept on insisting I could not be worthy.

Reeducation misunderstood it, but there is something to the idea of being allowed, or allowing yourself, to feel your own feelings. When we were children, there were certain perceptions we were not to have, and feelings we were not to have or at the very least not to mention or show. Instead, then, any time it is appropriate that we should assert ourselves against a majority, or express pain, we feel instead a blinding rage we cannot identify, a sense of shame so heavy we can barely stand under it, and a desire for death or disappearance that makes it impossible to speak. We have similar reactions if we have to turn anyone down for anything, and are stuck speechless. I become slightly dissociative, as though my head were elsewhere, and hold my breath.

There are three or four people I need to face and say things to, and that I am avoiding because I am afraid. An editor, because I am missing a deadline, because I cannot work on Vallejo fast, because I feel so insane/am so incapacitated on days I am supposed to work on him that I can only get a lucid hour or so and I lose the rest of the day to self-hatred … such that I cannot often afford to take that hour, given what goes on in the rest of the 23 and thus, all that does not get done in that time.

My father and his mover, because something got broken that opened a vein of grief in me so wide that I just had to say something. I should have said it was all right or not mentioned it because then I could have avoided conflict or avoided the similarly painful possibility that people might not care, or might just isolate me until I got over it or learned not to mention it. I am terrified of their reactions or non reactions and very upset with myself for having said anything. I am hiding in Barcelona in another identity, the one who feels well and does research in a rational state, but I am going to have to face all of these things soon.

What will the method be? I suppose I will just have to remind myself that it is all right to be human, even if in my original upbringing some others only wanted me to be human insofar as it serveed them.

Then there is my department head because I require a more rational workplace than we have had. I don’t know that anyone else cares, or that anyone else things we deserve this, or that anyone else knows what a more rational workplace might look like. But other departments in our same university are far more rational.

What will the method be here? I am not sure, as I am not sure to what attitude I may be talking to, or what agenda. But something must be said, and then done.


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Biblioteca de Catalunya

I spent five days there. The first two, I did not bring the laptop because I did not realize you could plug them in and mine had short battery life. Then I realized this was because I needed a new battery, so I took the computer to the shop and was without it for two days. (In fact you can plug them in, I just did not expect that since I am so used to Latin America where they would not be able to afford to give you that much electricity, or build so many outlets.)

I took notes on paper and it was blissful. On the fifth and last day I thought I would be in ultra-bliss because of the possibility of downloading things right to my machine. But now I was to take notes on it as well, and I could not concentrate. It is much harder to hold the book open and read and type on a screen than it is to read and write, and I think noticeably better when I am writing by hand.

This has been a very interesting experiment, and this post, while it is for all, is especially for Undine.


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Some notes on Barcelona today

Solving the SNCF mystery.

The sun in the cathedral, with its palm trees.

The Archive of Aragon, with Columbus’ original capitulations.

Getting a library card.

The port.

The theatre listings, the Café de la Opera.

The tourists, the trendy shops.

Buying green shoes. The rain.

Lost and there were no locals to ask for directions, nobody knew and many shopkeepers did not really speak Spanish or Catalan, they were mysterious immigrants.

Those guys on my doorstep when I finally got home, talking about the Atacama desert.

Mercès. Adeu. Bona nit.



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